What is Ankle Brachial Index?

The ankle-brachial index test compares the blood pressure in the upper and lower limbs. This test helps doctors determine if a person has peripheral artery disease (PAD) in the blood vessels in the legs. PAD often affects the vessels that bring blood to the legs.

Why is an ankle-brachial index test perform?

  • To diagnose PAD and prevent progression and complications
  • To identify high risk of coronary artery disease
  • If you have PAD symptoms of PAD
  • To check the severity of your PAD. The doctor might order this test every year to see if your condition is getting worse
  • If you had surgery on the blood vessels of your legs to see how well blood is flowing into the legs
  • To check the risk of stroke or heart attack

What are the risks of an ankle-brachial index?

There are no risks associated with an ABI test. However, this test is not recommended if you have a blood clot in your leg.


  • May want to wear loose, comfortable clothes. –
  • Need to rest for at least 15 to 30 minutes before the procedure
  • Ask the doctor if you need special instructions.

What happens during an ankle-brachial index?

In general, during your ABI test:

  1. You will lie flat during the procedure.
  2. A technician will take the blood pressure on your ankle. The technician will repeat this process on your other ankle and both of your arms.
  3. The technician will place an ultrasound probe over the artery.
  4. Next, the technician will calculate the ABI.

Sometimes healthcare providers will combine an ABI test with an exercise test. You might have an ABI done before and after exercise to see how exercise changes this value.

What happens after an ankle-brachial index test?

You should be able to go back to your regular activities after the ABI procedure. In case you got a blocked vessel, follow up with the doctor to get more information. Doctor mya order an MRI or an arteriogram.

If you have PAD, you may need treatment. Possible treatments include:

  • Doing exercise
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Having procedures to restore blood flow, like angioplasty
  • Having surgery on your leg (if the blockage is severe)
  • Stopping smoking
  • Treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, if needed
  • Taking medicine to increase blood flow to your legs or to prevent blood clots
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